korpi: (gentlemen's night out)
For all that I glamour Iain M. Banks, I'm bothered by many of his main characters. I guess it works out since his books don't really depend on them being likeable, but the lack of basic human courtesy starts getting old after a while. Asking a Banks protagonist for a simple favour like, say, closing a window is met with minimum of two pages of internal monologuing about how the task is stupid, the asker is stupid, and the social system that has lead to said request is stupid. And they are all so oddly sympathetic to all sorts of horrible ideas. I guess living in a utopia does that to a person.

The Culture's approach to gender identity and sexuality is also so strange. Banks speculates from the perspective of a straight cisgendered male (making assumptions here, but that's certainly what it feels like) and manages to get so many things dead wrong. (Assuming that the general Culture citizen is modeled after your everyday human being, which looks to be the case everywhere else.) People change sex (and "gender") according to a very strong binary model, and somehow almost all the sex anyone ever wants is heterosexual? You'd think that a people able to genetically alter themselves at will would be a bit more adventurous, but all of that seems to be limited to polygamy.

...Strangest of all, I don't actually find his portrayal offensive. It's naïve yet sophisticated enough if that makes any sense whatsoever, and it's not hateful at all, just biased and uninformed. Haven't seen much critique from the sci-fi community either, but apparently people think Forever War is sexually progressive, so who knows what the standards for this sort of thing are over there.

THAT SAID, I'm enjoying his works immensely. Just finished Excession yesterday, which leaves me with only three more Culture novels before I run out of things to read. DDDDDDDD:!!! It seems that every new book I read becomes my newest "best Banks book ever", and Excession is no exception. You can really see how far he has come from the haphazardly written Consider Phlebas: it's tightly-plotted and perfectly timed and lyrical and, best of all, has an extensive AI cast that plays off against each other rather than against any of those old, boring meat sacks that nominally carry the story. All those ships! The Anticipation of a New Lover's Arrival was my favourite, though Meatfucker and Killing Time (in its brief appearance) were also strong contenders, and the latter half of the book made me grow almost dangerously fond of Sleeper Service.

(...I wonder what it says about me that the characters I sympathize most with are sociopathic yet charismatic AIs. Somehow I find their moral code more relatable than that of many of the protagonists.)

I'm a bit puzzled at amazon reviews though. Everyone warns that you have to pay attention while reading. Isn't having to keep up with all of the plot threads to keep track of the plot the ideal reading situation?

While on the topic of BOOKS, I'm also currently finishing A Room with a View for a course. Forster, you crazy whimsical bastard, I'm almost having trouble trying not to get lost following the narrative. I love it so far, a lot. It's nice to see characters actually address and discuss social issues rather than make thinly veiled jabs here and there. Which has been the case with some earlier authors (*cough* Austen *cough*) (ok ok, different era, different style, but Sense and Sensibility was frustrating to read). Also:

"There is much that is immortal in this medieval lady. The dragons have gone, and so have the knights, but still she lingers in our midst."
This book was written in 1908. Why is this still relevant?

Game of Thrones premiere: I had avoided most of the hype because I didn't want to get my expectations up, so I got preeetty surprised by holy production values. The opening sequence!! And all the actors are so perfect (lol viserys). I might have to buy this on DVD when it gets released omg
korpi: (may hope be born anew)
I've always wanted to do one of these. So now that schoolwork is killing me, how about doing two at once? Presenting a 30-day shipping meme and a Final Fantasy meme of the same kind.

Day 01: What is your current favorite ship? )

DAY 01: Favorite opening? )

Questions )
korpi: (may hope be born anew)
Non-speculative fiction is the lowest form of literary art. It takes no risks, it creates nothing. It was born dead.

It safely anchors itself on everyday life, and thus can function in exactly two ways: imitation and escapism. Imitatory works are the ones lauded for their "literary merit", though they are the ones where nothing new is born. Whenever a work gets hauled to publicity by jaded critics, it's because the author has been blessed with a keen sense of perception of the world around them and technical skill of a quality that pleases those who fear to step away from the norm. Every single word is a mirror image of the physical reality the writer has been caged into.

Escapist works, now -- the ones most consumed the public, though people with literary "authority" tend to put them down as lesser literature. In reality, these works are the ones closer to true art, though they fall just off the mark by their very nature: they rely on preconceptions. They cannot breathe. Though escapist works use the reality around them as more of a playground, picking and choosing what to include, adding their own without being reduced to slaves, they must imitate the naïve illusionary reality of the world their readers wish to see, of what "should be".

Non-speculative fiction is a necessary evil in written art in very much the same way portraits and landscape paintings are in visual art. It can be used to show technical skill, and to hone it, but it will never have soul.

--okay no, no no no, not like that, but FUCK I. Just read an official, newspaper-published review where the reviewer basically said that though the book in question is technically perfect (as in, writing-), honestly and fairly imaginative, creates its own jargon and reality and recreates and references it faithfully throughout the whole story without ever slipping up, and yet somehow manages to be accessible (!!) to people unfamiliar with the genre WITHOUT BEING OBTUSE, it is a stagnant piece of crap, unable to create anything new, and inherently inferior to anything and everything else ever written "because it's sci-fi :)".


Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags